The Manzanita Creek Trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park offers hikers meadows, wildflowers, vistas of Lassen Peak, Chaos Crags, and Loomis Peak — and a fair amount of solitude.
Manzanita Creek Trail: Key Information
Length: 6.6 miles round trip
Hiking time: 4 hours or 2 days
High point: 6,850 feet
Total elevation gain: 1,050 feet
Season: mid-June through late October
Water: available from Manzanita Creek; purify first; best to bring your own
Maps: USGS 7.5′ Manzanita Lake, USGS 7.5′ Lassen Peak, park brochure
Wilderness Permit: required for overnight trips; obtain it at the park or by e-mail; call (530) 595-4444 or visit the park website
Campfire permit: backpackers must obtain a California campfire permit
Nearest campground: Manzanita Lake Campground
Manzanita Creek Trailhead GPS: N 40° 31.620′ W 121° 33.680′
Information: Lassen Volcanic National Park
Notes: dogs prohibited
Note: this post is based on Hike 113 in my new book Day Hiking: Mount Shasta, Lassen & Trinity Alps Regions, which includes 16 hiking trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park. There are other trails nearby, including the Chaos Crags Trail (Crags Lake) and the Manzanita Lake Trail.
Manzanita Creek Trail Highlights
On this hike, you’ll walk through serene forests and lush meadows just 2 miles west of Chaos Crags and Lassen Peak, massive volcanoes that have been active within the last millennium. Manzanita Creek’s clear, cold waters and numerous wildflowers also highlight the trip. If you wish to backpack, look for occasional level areas near the trail beyond the bridge across Manzanita Creek.
Manzanita Creek Trailhead Directions
Travel the main park road for 32.8 miles north of the junction of Highways 36 and 89, or 1.2 miles southeast of the junctions of Highways 44 and 89. Turn south onto the road to Manzanita Lake Campground. Follow the road for 0.8 mile, then take Loop F around another 0.2 mile to the small parking area near site 31.
Hiking the Manzanita Creek Trail
As you start on the sandy path, look above greenleaf manzanita and between Jeffrey pines and white firs at the stark visages of Chaos Crags and Lassen Peak. Continue on, then welcome the pleasing presence of red firs in the forest at 0.7 mile; staghorn lichens add fluorescent green to the trunks of both the red firs and white firs.
Climb steadily through the forest and reach an open, level area at 1.1 miles. Continue a very gentle ascent, then climb steeply as you note the presence of western white pines. Soon you’ll have more views of Chaos Crags and Lassen Peak and will delight in the appearance of large quantities of lupine, coyote mint, penstemon, and gilia.
Reach the bridge across Manzanita Creek at 2 miles, a great spot to rest and watch the water flow beneath your feet and then disappear downhill amidst bordering flowers and mountain alder. When ready, continue past level areas for backpackers. You’ll see Loomis Peak to the south at 2.4 miles. Featuring a serrated crest and multicolored steep cliffs that drop abruptly to near the west bank of Manzanita Creek, this impressive volcano will be the dominant topographical feature for the remainder of the hike.
Note small meadows farther on near the creek, briefly travel through a dense red fir forest, then enter the first sizable meadow at 2.8 miles. Cross a small stream, then look north for views of Thousand Lakes Wilderness peaks.
The trail continues another 0.5 mile to a much larger meadow, verdant and moist, that bursts with a magical display of wildflowers in mid- and late summer. Faint paths traverse the meadow, but you may be content to sit on a log, enjoy a picnic, and gaze up at Loomis Peak and other surrounding ridges.
Manzanita Lake Trail
Nearby: A level 1.5-mile path circles large and beautiful Manzanita Lake, offering access to a wide variety of plant and animal life. Views can be breathtaking, especially the sight of Chaos Crags and Lassen Peak reflected in the waters from the north shore. Reach the trail just east of the park entrance station (park near the lake), from the picnic area on the east side of the lake, or from Manzanita Lake Campground.
See my full description of the trail to Crags Lake.
Have you done this hike? What did you think?